The terms introvert and extrovert may seem like something that are used during psychological testing at school or work as a way of dividing people up but they are actually quite useful methods of determining what type of personality you have. If you don’t remember, the introvert is someone who is quiet and prefers to keep their own company and the extrovert is someone who is loud and likes lots of company.
While these tests have been used to gauge what people are like when they are awake, it turns out that they are actually quite useful when trying to understand people’s sleeping habits and quality as well. Yes, it seems that your personality type is actually connected to what your sleep is like, as weird as it may seem. The main connection is that if you are an introvert you are more likely to sleep more, while if you are an extrovert you are more likely to sleep less. Read on for an explanation.
The famous psychiatrist Jung defined introversion as a way of being that is the polar opposite to extraversion. To him introversion involved the inward movement of life energy and a valuation, preference for and focus on interior over any exterior reality. The introvert looks inward. The extrovert is someone who values and prefers to focus their life energy outwards, value exterior reality over their interior being. The truth is that most of us are not one type but are a mix of the two, we can be situationally introvert and extrovert, each of us is our own unique mix of these two personality traits.
Sleep can be seen as a very elemental type of inversion where the person has withdrawn from the exterior world and is totally focused on their interior world. We live in an extraverted world, one that is publicly demanding, that encourages us to ignore the interior and focus on the exterior and this can be seen in the rising rates of sleep disorders and insufficient sleep. We no longer focus on our interior but are too busy with the exterior, the way the world wants us to be rather than the way we want to be. This means that for the majority of us, we are sacrificing our introversion for extroversion.
Sleep disorders and deprivation have been linked with a range of serious physical conditions such as heart disease, atherosclerosis, obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and suppression of the immune system. In addition, sleep disorders and deprivation have been shown to have a range of impacts on our cognitive abilities and emotional states, our ability to store and recollect memories and have even been shown to have a connection with dementia.
A lack of sleep has also been found to cause a mental state that is generally known by the French phrase abaissement du niveau mental. This is a momentary reduction of consciousness, in which the ego’s defences become weakened, and people are rendered much more susceptible to the unconscious.
It has been shown that sleep deprivation can induces this mental state, which in turn can worsen symptoms like anxiety, depression, paranoia, mania, irritability, anger and rage. This is why it is vital for even the most extrovert to get enough of the introversion that sleep provides, particularly when they are most stressed.
However, being in the state of abaissement du niveau mental is not all bad, while we are far more likely to give in to our unconscious and are more likely to get angry, annoyed and frustrated, while we are in this state we are also a lot closer to the rejuvenating energies of the subconscious. Dreams are an example of what happens when we are closer to the subconscious. While many ignore dreams there is a lot that we can learn from them, as long as we are willing to analyse them.
Both Jung and Freud believed that dreams had meaning, Jung believed that we tend to see and interpret the world and our experiences, both outward and inward, through the unique lens of our own particular psychological typology, that who we are is reflected in our dreams.
One area where our dreams and the subconscious meet is in our fear of the unknown and of death. When people are afraid of the known, of death and the afterlife, they will almost always be afraid of sleep. For them sleep is similar to and symbolic of the unknown and death. Sleep is like a death that we can wake from and many people who fear death fear sleep also.
For many extroverts the idea of sleeping seems like a total waste of time, why would they want to sleep for a third of every day when they could be out doing so many other more important things? For the extrovert sleep is something that they unwillingly submit to. Sleep is something that they know that they have to do but do not want to do it. To the extrovert, dreams are just random phenomena, something that their brain does while they are asleep that has no impact on their outside life.
On the other hand, for introverts sleep is something that they seek, that they want. Introverts like the quiet time that sleep gives them, they like the ability to focus their energy inwards, they want to dream and to analyse their dreams when they wake. For the introvert dreams are an important part of who they are, both when they are asleep and when they are awake.
Anecdotally it appears that people who score more toward the introvert end of the spectrum are more likely to sleep more while people who are more toward the extrovert end are more likely to sleep less. In other words, your personality type has an impact on the amount of sleep you get.
If you want to improve your sleep health and are an extrovert then you need to get in touch with your interior, you need to focus on appreciating sleep as a component of who you are. Do not view it as a break from life but as a part of your life.
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